If you had asked “Who is going No. 1 in the 2011 NBA draft?” before the college basketball season started, the consensus was North Carolina’s freshman Harrison Barnes.
Except Barnes is shooting 38.2 percent this season and 29.3 percent from three. He has not lived up to the hype and is sliding down the boards (although not far, DraftExpress has him at No.3).
Replacing him in the consensus top spot was Kyrie Irving of Duke, the freshman handling the decisions for the nation’s number one team. He is shooting 45.2 percent from three and 58.7 percent inside the arc. He looks like the kind of point guard that can run an NBA team.
Except Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced on his “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” show on XM Radio this week that Irving may out for the season with a toe injury. Which is likely to hurt his draft stock.
So who is No. 1?
(Yes, there will be a draft even if there is a lockout. The draft at the end of June comes before the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, no draft pick can be signed until after July 1 — when the lockout will happen — so they will live in a bit of limbo.)
Predicting now is a bit of guesswork, this was always a pretty wide-open class and recent performances have made it more so. The smart money now is on Perry Jones of Baylor. The power forward has long been considered maybe the best long-term prospect in the class because GMs always love bigs. He has been good but not “nobody is taking the top spot from me” good so far.
So guys like Kentucky’s newest greatest freshman Terrence Jones or overseas players such as Jonas Valenciunas or almost-Kentucky player (except he played as a pro already) Enes Kanter have a shot.
Basically, it’s wide open. This season the draft has quality but not the clear-cut, John Wall type of “this guy is No. 1 no question” type of guy.
Which has positives for us fans — this season, the games (and post-season workouts) will matter more than ever. Just don’t be too sure about who is the top pick.
The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.
The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.
Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.
Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:
Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.
The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.
Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.
The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.
With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.
Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.
Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.
The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.
It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.
Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.
“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.
That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.
Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.
Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.
On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.
The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.